KAKE NEWS INVESTIGATES: Solving the drug crisis

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Methamphetamine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. And the harm it can cause has been the focus of horror stories for years.

To watch a loved one warp into an addict is nothing short of a nightmare.

“According to him, he began to use methamphetamine in 2012,” said Lance Homman, who’s son is an addict. “He was very open with me and I was hearing a lot of information I didn’t want to hear.”

His son didn’t want to be identified but he’s been the fuel of his father’s fight.

“Every instinct is telling you to protect them, they’re your child,” he said. “But the only way they’re going to make that change, make that choice, is when the consequences become so painful that they don’t want anything to do with it.”

Homman said his son has gone in and out of the criminal justice system for years. That he would always be caught for possession not a violent crime. But he still ended up in jail and prisons repeatedly.

“What they were doing wasn’t working with him,” he said. “They’d boot him out and the judge would send him to jail.”

The fight has gotten hard. Prices for methamphetamine have dropped dramatically. From $1,100 an ounce five years ago, to less than $250 today, according to the DEA.

In Sedgwick County, methamphetamine has led to the most violent crimes. From the shooting death of Deputy Robert Kunze to the torture and death of Evan Brewer in 2018 alone. Frequent busts have occurred, but the problem is still rising.

And the issue has gotten so problematic, it forced the Sedgwick County Sheriff to do something he hasn’t done before – ask for additional funding for the Detention Center.

Sheriff Jeff Easter asked commissioners for and additional $2.6 million to fund the center through the end of the year. He blames an uptick in violent crimes for an uptick in the prison population. The department said it’s already spent about as much food for inmates in nine months this year, as it did for all of 2018.

“The problem is we’re not doing anything to help with their addiction,” Easter said. “They’re committing more crimes because they’re still addicted.”

So what if people addicted could be treated before they reach the point of committing violent crimes?

“If we can give them an option – if you’re drug addicted, you’re going to get treated, we might have a chance then to see these folks actually take to treatment,” he said.

Homman agrees which is why he got to work on what he calls a massive improvement to the system.

“The reality of it, is this is a struggle he’ll (his son) fight every day,” he said.

He drafted a massive report calling for different steps to treat nonviolent offenders.

From taking in addicted people who admit they need help, to details of rehabilitation through inpatient treatment options. He also calls for working with employers to create job training during recovery with incentives for the employer and providing close supervision when patients re-enter normal life.

“The team that directs treatment consists of a judge at the top in that particular district court, community corrections, drug counsel experts, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys,” he said. “The genesis of this proposal is from the frustration I felt in having to deal with the state of Kansas and the fact that they were handling things terribly. Making things worse.”

Homman has sent his plan to county attorneys and several representatives for feedback. He hopes it gets closer attention in the next legislative year.

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